More details about the Bulls’ team meeting are starting to trickle out, following a tumultuous 48-hour period that culminated in a lifeless performance against the Miami Heat Friday night—a showing so bad, Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg only chose to show individual clips as opposed to the full game film Saturday.
Despite how bad the Bulls looked, veteran forward Taj Gibson said the meeting was necessary and he highlighted a few points with the media after Saturday’s practice.
Considering Gibson was present for the Tom Thibodeau-Bulls front office battles of years’ prior and lived to tell about it, he said this recent drama doesn’t rank too high on his scale.
“Probably about a 4, 4 or 5 maybe. I've seen worse,” Gibson said. “But how we handled it, it was a good thing. We talked it out, get everybody going, get some things off guys' chests. It was a good thing. I didn't take anything negative from it.
“It was intense. Guys got it out. Guys and coaches were able to really speak what they want from guys. Guys challenged each other and it was good to hear from all members of the team, especially our young guys, what they need, what they want. I think it was a positive.”
Bulls VP John Paxson spoke, as well as Hoiberg addressing concerns about his own coaching style, along with some of the young players who were criticized by Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler calling for more from Wade on the practice floor.
Wade, who at 35 years old is open about keeping his body fresh and doesn’t practice all the time, practiced Saturday in response to the young players. It should be noted that was one of Rajon Rondo’s points of contention on his Instagram post Thursday afternoon.
“That’s one of the things in the meeting,” Gibson said. “Young guys just want a little bit more from him. He brung it today. He pushed the young guys. And that’s a sign that that meeting did a little something. It’s all about positive.”
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The message of positivity couldn’t be seen on the floor Friday, as the Bulls were so emotionally spent from the meeting and the drama, they were in no condition to compete at a level necessary to beat a Heat team that came in on a roll.
“I felt like that morning just sucked so much energy out of the game, the game plan, guys were just so focused on how to get out of that situation in the morning because there was a lot of words being said, a lot of tempers,” Gibson said.
Which brings the Bulls to Paxson, who can certainly be fiery behind the scenes. But Gibson said Paxson spoke from a position of compassion and not one from the ivory tower of an executive. Paxson, of course, played with Michael Jordan, a man notoriously tough on teammates at times in his playing days.
“Pax spoke and his message was positive,” Gibson said. “But his message was real humbling and just from a players' perspective, it wasn't from like a GM or your boss kind of perspective. It was like a player-player perspective of how he played and how it was and how to rectify it. It was a good talk from him.”
Gibson would’ve preferred a lot of the criticism to stay in-house but had no choice to admit things could take a positive turn—although Friday night gave little indication of immediate positive returns.
“Sometimes people don't really mean what they say,” Gibson said. “The next day after reading it in the papers or reading it from the media or the TVs, you kind of look at yourself and you kind of come in like, 'I didn't really mean it in that kind of way.' And then people will be able to speak freely to what they really mean and other guys get to chime in. It was good for the team. I think it was a positive.”
And with all that’s gone on, Gibson points out the Bulls are still in the playoffs currently and still have plenty of time to make something out of an up and down Eastern Conference.
“You look at we’re fortunate to be in the East. We’re fortunate to have everybody going through the same problems we’re going through,” Gibson said. “This is a blessing, a great opportunity.”